It is commonly said that there are a lot of things that women who are not moms do not understand about being a mother. Even though women who are not mothers probably hate to hear that concept enter a conversation, it is generally true. Accepted or not, it is, without a doubt, true that if we haven’t experienced something yet…we tend to be less knowledgeable about it.
I’ve been married for over nine years, so I feel like I got the married, being-a-wife thing down pretty darn good by the time kiddos joined our lives. Enter three kids aged three and under in less than two months and I am not ashamed to admit that I was one of those…a woman who didn’t understand being a mother until I really was one. We have three kiddos through fostering and adopting, so we certainly never had a generous nine month pregnancy time frame to be able to prep for the arrival of a single child…and certainly not for all three of them practically at the same time.
There are many things that I was taking for granted until I became a mother…like taking long showers. Or even taking showers, for that matter. I think my record was five days. Showering got to the point where it almost seemed like a waste of time. There are so many other things I could do in that time: dishes, laundry, pick up toys, have 15 minutes of child-free sanity to myself and a cup of coffee. Even though we have had three kids for going on a few months now, I think I would still rather have my 15 minutes of sanity and a cup of coffee than take a shower. Did I really just put that out there?
And while we’re on the topic of bathing…no one told me that bathing kids could be so unpleasant. I don’t mind bathing the baby, but the older two…the older splashes and dumps water on the younger and the younger hates the hair washing part of bathing so there are a lot of tears at our house during bath time. I usually make my husband do it, but on the off chance that he is unable, I break up the task by bathing one that night and other the next morning. At least that helps to avert any type of water-splashing tear-shedding crisis.
One thing about being a mother that I didn’t really expect was that sometimes I need one of the kids to go to timeout so that I can gather myself. I think I am really benefiting from the time-out more than they are. Because, are they really considering what they need to change about their behavior? Probably not. But in that few minutes I can take some deep breaths, re-heat that cup of morning coffee for the 3rd time and maybe get to actually finish it. And when time-out is over, everyone has their happy faces on, and is raring to go again…myself included.
Parenthood is definitely a time of sacrifice. Not only do we sacrifice our sleep, money, space, and time, but also our minds and our hearts. The effort required to be prepared to leave our home with a small child, much less three children, and get out and about to successfully run errands or whatever else, is a small miracle…everytime. The planning ahead, prepping, and following through on planning and prepping is sometimes so exhausting that we wait until the very last possible minute to do what we need to. Such as buying toilet paper. We literally didn’t have any more toilet paper, so the hubs (who was home-bound due to the snow) was able to go and get some by himself. I have to admit I was a little jealous that he got to go to the store on a toilet paper run by himself. Sounds like a glorious time of self-rejuvenation if there ever was one.
Difficulty, tears, and sacrifice aside, parenting is an experience second to none. It isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. But for those who are parents, despite how the children came into the home; by birth, fostering, or adopting, it is exceedingly rewarding…though the rewards may be in the future, or few and far between. The I love you’s, thank you’s, I’m sorry’s, hugs and kisses help make all the hard times worth it in the long run. My favorite? I adore how young children mimic adults in their play, often imitating tasks and activities that are part of our everyday lives, that we sometimes even consider mundane. Seeing one of the kiddos make their baby doll a bottle the same way we do or always wanting to wear dress shoes like my husband does for work. Hopefully as they age we can continue to impact them in all the ways that matter in regards to becoming loving, giving, gracious, patient, polite, respectful, faithful adults and productive citizens of society.